EU trade marks: the four-tier system
Depending on the level of protection you want, you can submit different applications to register a trade mark in an EU member state.
Firstly, you can make an application on the national level where you target the one country in which you want protection. This may be the country you are trading in currently or one you want to expand to. You would then submit your application directly to that country’s national office. Price of this is dependent on the country you want to register in but normally this is a cost-effective way to protect your mark in your main trading country.
Secondly, if you want to protect your trade mark in Belgium, The Netherlands and/or Luxembourg, you can register through the only regional IP office in the EU, the Benelux Office of Intellectual Property. This will be suitable if you want to trade in that area where trade is linked between the three countries.
If you are looking for a wider level of protection, registering an EU wide trade mark will allow you to protect your trade mark against any unauthorised third party use in all 28 member states. You do need to be sure however, that you are or will be using your trade mark properly in a significant number of member states otherwise you will not be able to satisfy the genuine use requirement.
The last tier in which you can scale up your protection is an international registration through the World Intellectual Property Office through the Madrid System. This will allow you to use your national, regional or EU wide trade mark as a basis to then protect your mark in any country that is a signatory to the Madrid Protocol. If you want to register in a country that is not a part of this system, which isn’t many, you will need to go through their national system.
If you want to pursue any of the above options, contact The Trademarkroom who will make the process as simple and smooth as possible.
By Ellis Sweetenham